Do carbohydrates matter right after a workout?
Here’s the what, when, and how much of the PWO carb debate.
You already know it’s important to get some protein in after a workout. After all, the King of Macros (that’s protein, to you) helps boost recovery and speed up the muscle-gain journey. But should you post-workout meal or snack contain carbohydrates, too? Or is a scoop of Pro Peptide in a shaker sufficient?
More and more athletes are turning to fast-acting carbs directly after training. Here’s why – and why you should consider it, too.
Why Eat Carbs After Training?
When we train, we deplete muscle glycogen (the stored form of glucose) which has been used as energy to fuel the workout. The energy pathway ATP needs glycogen in order to help your muscles contract. So once you’re done training, you will be at least partially depleted of muscle glycogen. And that needs replacing. The best way to do this is to get some carbs into your system – preferably high GI carbs which will be digested quickly. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2055849
Why does muscle glycogen matter? Unless you top it back up, you will struggle to train effectively next time you hit the gym. In fact, you’ll eventually find it difficult to do anything properly – including walking your dog, mowing the lawn, and thinking! Gym performance will seriously suffer. And isn’t that the entire point of training? Don’t cheat yourself by skimping on carbohydrate when it matters.
If you want to help maximize muscle glycogen when taking on high amounts of carbohydrates then a glucose disposal agent or GDA is what you need. This newer category of supplements are taken at the same time as high carbohydrate meals or shakes and act by aiding the body in driving glycogen into the muscle.
Won’t Carbs After Training Make Me Fat?
Not if you eat the amount you need. Of course any excess in calories (especially if you overeat frequently and for long enough!) will lead to fat gain. But if you judge it correctly, and only consume the amount of carbohydrate your body needs after your training session, then it will do its job. That is, replenishing muscle glycogen and not being stored as excess energy.
Carbohydrate For Muscle Gain
If you are training for mass, strength, and muscle gain then you need to take in carbs after training. And most experts would say that you should have some carbohydrate after training even if you are on a strict, time pressured diet to get shredded for stage. Even if your overall daily carbohydrate and calorie intake is being monitored down to the gram, you should prioritise carbohydrates around training. Post-workout is not the time to be cutting carbs. Take them from elsewhere in your day if you need to, but not now!
Replenishing muscle glycogen by eating post workout carbs will have a direct impact on muscle growth. It is the stored glycogen in muscle cells that pulls water into the cells, and this increases muscle cell volume and contributes hugely to gains in mass, size, and fullness. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3758035
Carbohydrates For Energy
If you’ve trained hard, you’ll feel wiped out afterwards. Eating carbohydrates with your post workout means you’ll get some energy back and feel able to tackle the rest of your day. This is important if you want to keep on working, studying, and being a useful member of the household!
And if you’re dieting for fat loss, then a measured amount of carbohydrate post workout is likely to minimise cravings for carbs (especially sugary snacks) later in the day. It’s a preventative measure using smart strategies and nutrient timing.
The Best Carbohydrate For Post Workout
Choose a high GI carb source which your body will digest without too much extra effort. Pure glucose (or dextrose) is a good choice because it’s absorbed into the bloodstream almost as soon as you eat it, and it takes very little digestive effort (so you won’t feel heavy or bloated).
Pro Recover has glucose and sucrose in ideal ratios (alongside quality protein and added vitamins) – it’s called Recover for a reason! It’s the easiest way to take in exactly what your body needs after training – no need to overthink or weigh out different ingredients. Take a look at the CNP Professional Post Workout supplements range to find the right product for your needs.
5 Stages Of Post Workout Carbs
1) Take high GI fast digesting carbohydrates with your protein after training
2) Combine with creatine and a GDA for maximum results
3) Even if fat loss is your goal, prioritise your carb allowance pre and post training
4) If getting all of your post workout carbs from high GI foods doesn’t agree with you, get half from high GI and save half for foods like potato, oats, or fruit
5) Try Pro Recover for a no-brainer approach to the perfect ratio of post workout carbohydrates and protein